Patient treated in ambulance as A&E was full

A seriously-ill patient had to be placed in the back of an ambulance for life-saving treatment when there was no room for him at the emergency department of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital yesterday.

The ambulance was driven up to the front of the emergency department to act as a back-up treatment cubicle.

The department has had to cope with unprecedented numbers in recent months.

A HSE spokesman said: “The emergency department at the Mid Western Regional Hospital has been extremely busy ... following an upsurge in attendances; increased attendance is often seen in the days following a bank holiday weekend.

“The situation was exacerbated this morning when four people were being treated in the major resuscitation facilities within the emergency department [ED]. A fifth patient presented by ambulance requiring non-invasive, ventilatory support. This is usually done within one of the major resuscitation areas but all were occupied at the same time.

“As a result, a decision was made to treat the patient in an ambulance in the ambulance bay, which is a secure area accessible to trained ambulance personnel and ED staff.

“The patient received the required treatment from the emergency medicine consultant and was then admitted to the hospital for ongoing care. This was an extremely unusual occurrence as it is exceptionally rare for five patients to require access to the major resuscitation facilities at the same time.”

The Mid West Regional Hospital Group has apologised to the patient but said the priority had been speedy treatment and this was done to a high clinical standard by a medical professional.

Fianna Fáil frontbench spokesman Niall Collins said what had occurred was further evidence of the chaos which now grips the health service and was “totally unacceptable”.

“Medical personnel deserve great credit for to initiative they had to display when presented with this situation, but the fact that things have come to this is indicative of the chaos there is now,” he said.

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